Study: Fish often misrepresented

HOUSTON - A new study found that a lot of seafood in grocery stores and restaurants is not always as advertised.

According to the study released Tuesday by Oceana, an international ocean advocacy group, 39 percent of the 142 DNA samples taken from seafood at restaurants and grocery stores in New York City was mislabeled.

"Consumers are getting ripped off," said Beth Lowell, Oceana's campaign director. "They are often getting less-desirable, cheaper fish."

"It's been an industry issue for years," said Jay Neal, a food safety professor at the University of Houston. "It's really an integrity issue for the vendors."

Sushi bars were the biggest culprit, according to the study. All 16 of the sushi bars surveyed had misrepresented their products. Seventy-nine percent of the red snapper was not red snapper, according to the study. In some cases, it was replaced by tilefish, which officials recommend not be consumed because it has high mercury levels.

There were no specific numbers for Houston, but in Miami, Boston and Los Angeles, seafood fraud has been found up to 55 percent of the time it is tested.

The Food and Drug Administration is supposed to monitor how fish is labeled.

"The FDA has its hands full dealing with other problems. Are people getting sick from this? No. Is it fraudulent? Yes," Neal said.

Oceana said it wants the federal government to step in an put a system in place that better traces the supply chain.

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